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Strength, weakness of President George H.W. Bush

SUSAN K. SMITH | 12/11/2018, 12:43 p.m.
The passing of former President George H.W. Bush has inspired the vocalization of deep love and appreciation for all this ...

Crazy Faith Ministries

The passing of former President George H.W. Bush has inspired the vocalization of deep love and appreciation for all this man did. Certainly, in this period of political ugliness, confusion and behavior in general that is and has been less than honorable, recognizing and remembering the dignity of this man has been a breath of fresh air. He truly represented an era where the office of the president was looked at and treated as the high honor it is.

The work he did for this country was impressive – from ending the Cold War without a shot being fired to his decision on how the U.S. would handle the Chinese crackdown against students protesting against their government in a demonstration in Tiananmen Square to his role in the Berlin Wall coming down, it was clear that this was a man who loved his country and was skilled in handling the crises any nation faces on the world stage.

It has been refreshing to hear how he “did what he thought was right,” even going so far as to raise taxes in this nation when he had explicitly promised during his campaign that he would not. We all remember his forceful words, “Read my lips. No new taxes,” and how he broke that promise to save this country’s economy, costing him a second term as president and alienating many in the GOP forever.

He had principles, and it is important for us all to know this. He respected those with whom he disagreed; he believed that patriotism should be placed before party; he did not hobnob with dictators; and though he did great things, he refrained from being a braggart. His principles were noteworthy.

But he had one weakness, which so many people in this country and in the world recognize. He was affected and influenced by racism, and he knew how so many White people lived in fear of Black people – the result of racist thinking – and so he used that fear to win his bid to be president.

As the tributes were coming in after his death, I had to backtrack to make sure his was the campaign during which “Willie Horton” surfaced because nobody was mentioning it and true enough, there it was: that horrible ad with the picture of the Black man who had raped and murdered a White woman while on furlough.

The ad was designed by the Bush handlers; the late Lee Atwater was at least one of its masterminds. Atwater was clear about using race as a weapon to win the election. Times had changed, he said, and Republicans had to use race without being blatant about it, so the campaign would have to use certain words that would indicate to White voters the racial implications of what was being expressed.

Atwater taught how Republicans could win elections based on race without “sounding racist.” It was a part of the “Southern Strategy,” and Bush, for all of his decency and devotion to principles, used that strategy to get into the White House.